THE RINGLEADER of the Paris attacks which saw 130 massacred by Islamic terrorists has been shot and captured alive by Belgian police.
Salah Abdeslam, 26, was seized during a police raid on the Brussel’s neighbourhood of Molenbeek, now infamous as a hotbed of extremism.
Belgium’s Justice Minister Theo Francken confirmed the arrest, announcing on his Twitter account simply “We got him”.
Details are still emerging but there have been reports of gunfire and explosions in the Molenbeek area.
The operation follows the discovery of Abdeslam’s fingerprints at a flat in a different part of the city on Tuesday. Police were greeted at the time with gunfire from a 35-year-old Algerian who was then shot dead by a police sniper but two suspects had escaped on foot.
Abdeslam, a French national, was considered the mastermind between November’s attacks which shocked the world, and was believed responsible for orchestrating the planning and practicalities.
The man, who was on the radar of police and counter-terrorism units prior to the atrocity, was on the run for four months with his face plastered across newspapers and police memos as he evaded a huge international manhunt.
Police have been hot on his tail for weeks and had already began piecing his escape together, establishing that he hid in a north Brussels apartment for three weeks after the attacks.
Forensics experts are also attempting to work out whether Abdeslam changed his mind about detonating his own suicide vest out of cowardice or the furthering of other terrorist acts should he escape.